MADE IN ILLINOISThis month Made in Illinois has a tasty feature. In honor of National Popcorn Day, we visited Pittman’s Popcorn Shop (1500 Wabash Ave. Springfield, IL) and spoke to Michael Pittman, the owner of the independent, family-owned gourmet popcorn store.

First opened in 2016, Pittman’s Popcorn Shop touts more than 500 popcorn flavors with 70 flavors available at any given time. From traditional flavors like caramel and cheddar to their own creations like strawberry cheesecake and peanut butter chocolate, Pittman’s Popcorn Shop has something to offer to everyone.

Read the story below of how Pittman started and has grown his business.

ILI: How did you get your start?
Pittman: We opened Pittman’s Popcorn Shop on Sept. 16, 2016. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 14 years now and as a vegetarian, I eat a lot of popcorn. I started researching different ways that you can make popcorn, started experimenting with flavors and got the idea to start a popcorn store.

ILI: How has your business grown since the beginning?
Pittman: The business has grown in the past couple of years. As with starting anything, you take baby steps. We’re growing every day and we’re getting new customers every day. We’ve also been successful in getting retail locations to carry our product. We also sell on Amazon and we have a website where you can buy our popcorn and we’ll ship it anywhere in the country to you. Our motto is ‘We keep them coming back for more.’

ILI: How does being in Illinois contribute to the success of your business?

Pittman: In Illinois, popcorn is the official snack food. Being in Illinois also has its advantages because the popcorn that we use comes from Illinois and it’s grown in Illinois. There are several different types of popcorn that we use that are grown here, so it is an advantage being able to buy locally.

ILI: What effect does your business have in your local community?
Pittman: Popcorn is one of those comfort foods. A lot of people like popcorn and a lot of kids eat popcorn. We are also able to be a part of the community by helping organizations that want to do fundraisers. We work with them and sell them our popcorn at a discounted rate, which they can sell to make a profit to front whatever type of activity they’re going to do for their organization.

ILI: Is there anything else you would like to tell me about Pittman’s Popcorn Shop?
Pittman: Buy and eat as much as you can because we’ll keep you coming back for more.

ILI: Finally, what do you love about Illinois?
Pittman: There are a lot of good things in Illinois. One mile you can be driving and seeing the city and thirty miles later all you can see are cornfields